Sometimes people like to say, “That experience made me a better person.” However, the truth is that adults who were abused as children don’t know who they would have become without the trauma they experienced. Only the ones who experienced trauma later in life really have the opportunity to compare themselves to how they were before and after the trauma.
Another thing to think about is trauma doesn’t make you a better person. Your traumatic event(s) didn’t do you a favor. The trauma itself did not help you. You have to create the “better person” that it made you. All of your hard work is what makes you a better person.
Dr. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and Austrian psychotherapist once said; “Life holds potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones.”
There’s a common phrase, “Grow through what you go through.” You have the ability to use what you went through to help others. Your experiences give you opportunities that otherwise you may not have. How you handle it is all in your own hands.
There are things you can do to use maximize your potential. With the proper help, you can make more of your life. You can have positive experiences that wouldn’t have come without the trauma. Here are some key factors:
• Learning to overcome helplessness- The term was coined in 1967 by the American psychologists Martin Seligman and Steven Maier. The pair was conducting research on animal behavior that involved delivering electric shocks to dogs. Dogs who learned that they couldn’t escape the shock stopped trying in subsequent experiments, even when it became possible to avoid the shock by jumping over a barrier. (The researchers later realized they had picked up on a slightly different behavior, learning control, but studies have since confirmed that learned helplessness occurs.)
• Finding a meaning in life- This is a broad phrase that could mean anything. Your purpose in life could look completely different from someone else. Finding your personal meaning is key. Inspiration from others is a great way to do this. Find people who are living a life that you desire and look into what they are doing that you crave in your own life.
• Learning new perspectives- “we don’t see things the way they are- we see them the way WE are.” Annais Nin The way we see things can be a very powerful thing. We have the potential to help so many people through our experiences and the way we view life because of them.
• Optimism- is a philosophy that says, “A person who believes that this world is the best of all possible worlds or that good must ultimately prevail over evil.” Optimists are likely to see the causes of failure or negative experiences as temporary rather than permanent, specific rather than global, and external rather than internal. Such a perspective enables optimists to more easily see the possibility of change.”
• A social network. The term “social network” refers both to a person’s connections to other people in the real world and to a platform that supports online communication, such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. This has been found very beneficial. Trauma is very isolating. Feeling of loneliness are common when you feel like no one would understand, no one can relate; therefore it’s easy to believe that you must go through it all by yourself.
If there is anything to get from this is, life after trauma is possible. It’s worth it. Healing what hurt you has reasons that make it worth it. Overcoming trauma at your pace is essential. You don’t owe anyone anything and your story is only yours to share. If you choose not to it’s completely okay. There are so many ways to help others without opening up about exact details of your trauma.